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    Good News on this Day in History – May 4

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    60 years ago today, 13 volunteer activists, called Freedom Riders, began their bus trip through the deep south to protest lingering segregation on public transportation and in restaurants in the US, even though five years earlier discrimination against blacks on buses had been declared unconstitutional.

    mug-shots-1960s-Freedom_RidersThe original group — 7 Blacks and 6 Whites — which included the late Congressman John Lewis, grew to as many as 1,000 riders, from all walks of life, dedicated to non-violence and passive resistance. During their terror-filled journey, one bus was fire-bombed and some riders were beaten to unconsciousness by angry white mobs with iron pipes.

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    The ride was ended on May 25 in Jackson, Mississippi, when the activists were arrested—and Lewis spent 37 days in jails and a state penitentiary.

    The Freedom Riders focused the world’s attention on the racial discrimination suffered by African-Americans and it helped to bring about positive change, with President Kennedy and Attorney General Robert Kennedy moving to try to protect the riders and change the accepted norms of an interracial society. WATCH a clip from a PBS documentary… (1961)

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    MORE Good News on This Day:

    • The Anglo-Dutch Slave Trade Treaty was signed by the Netherlands and Britain to outlaw slave trading and allow both nations to search vessels of the other suspected of carrying slaves, detain, and prosecute crew members found guilt. (1818)
    • The U.S. state of Michigan ended the death penalty (1846)
    • The National Association, the first professional baseball league, opened its first season in Fort Wayne, Indiana (1871)
    • Ernest Hemingway was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for The Old Man and the Sea (1953)
    • Margaret Thatcher became the first female Prime Minister of the United Kingdom (1979)
    • Latvia proclaimed the renewal of its independence, following the Soviet occupation (1990)
    • Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin and PLO leader Yasser Arafat signed a peace accord regarding Palestinian autonomy granting self-rule in the Gaza Strip and Jericho (1994)
    • Today is International Firefighters Day, first proclaimed in Australia, but now observed worldwide (1999)
    • The Milwaukee Art Museum outdoor addition, the first Santiago Calatrava-designed structure in the United States, opened to the public along the shoreline of Lake Michigan (2001)
    • The power company, American Electric Power Ohio, began offering $1 million in grants to lower income homeowners having trouble paying soaring energy bills (2009)
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    Happy 51st Birthday to Will Arnett, the Canadian-American comedic actor and producer best known for his role in the TV series Arrested Development, for which he received an Emmy nomination for for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series. He’s also known for his role in the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles films, and his prolific voice acting with a deep, baritone in animated films like Ice Age, Ratatouille, Monsters vs. Aliens, and Despicable Me. His 9-show run on 30 Rock playing Devon Banks earned him four Emmys for Outstanding Guest Actor in a Comedy Series.

    2016 photo by Gage Skidmore, CC license

    Last year, during the COVID-19 pandemic, he rejoined LEGO to resurrect his Batman character from the Lego Movie franchise to make a public service announcement with Ralph Fiennes that discusses kids’ fears, and washing your hands. WATCH the LEGO Batman safety message… (1970)

     

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    And, on this day in 1944, George Cukor’s film Gaslight was released. The mystery-thriller was nominated for seven Academy Awards, including Best Picture, Best Actor, and Best Screenplay, but it was Ingrid Bergman’s portrayal of a young wife being driven mad by her thieving, murdering husband that shone brightest, winning her three awards including the Golden Globe and Oscar for Best Actress.

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    Charles Boyer was nominated for his leading role, and also notable was Angela Lansbury, nominated for Supporting Actress in her screen debut, playing the maid at age 18. The title of this fictional work, based on Patrick Hamilton’s 1938 play, Gas Light, actually became a psychological term (gaslighting), which describes the form of insidious psychological abuse in which the victim is gradually manipulated into doubting their own sanity.

    And, on this day in 1916, Jane Jacobs was born, a secretary from Greenwich Village who, angered by a scheme to erect a Manhattan Expressway through nearby SoHo and Little Italy, ended up changing urban planning forever.

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    Jane_Jacobs-urban planner-wikipedia

    Even though Jacobs had no formal training or college degree, the activist’s influential 1961 book, The Death and Life of Great American Cities, turned urban planning upside down. She argued that cities were living organisms that should be fun to live in, and criticized developments or freeways that isolated communities from the activity around it. Her clarion call caused cities like Baltimore to embrace mixed use development, which transformed its Inner Harbor from urban decay into a major tourist attraction.

    Jacobs believed her philosophy is what keeps cities safe, and coined the term, “eyes on the street”. She moved to Toronto in 1968 where she continued her work and also influenced Vancouver, BC’s urban planning for which she has been called “the mother of Vancouverism”, referring to that city’s use of her “density done well” philosophy. She passed away in 2006. WATCH a short bio…


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